I’m going to be honest. When I was at school, I would jeer people with special needs. Even though I consider myself as someone who doesn’t look down on anyone, like the others, I would find fun in mimicking or jeering these people.
Joining the Special Olympics movement has made me look back and regret that. It has been a life-changing experience. It has made me a better man where I’ve become a lot more patient and able to appreciate people for their differences and needs.
Great to give back
Now I’m 28 years old, so it’s been about four years ago since I was invited by my company, Digicel, to take part. I came, learned what Special Olympics is about and I loved it. I’m the ‘waterboy’ basically – I’ve literally been in charge of ice n’ water at every event since!
It’s a lovely feeling to give back and to see what it means to people and for them, even people my own age to address me as ‘Uncle Fadil’. There’s this saying where you ‘discomfort the comfortable and you comfort the disturbed’. For me, just to end up in this, to try and do my best and to see how that manifests in improving the lives of others – that’s the most important part, the most gratifying feeling.
Motivating others to volunteer
I’ve got quite a few people to volunteer: my girlfriend, my sister, my dad, my coach and I also took eight of my teammates when I was at Santos Football Club – seven as players and one just as a volunteer.
What they get in terms of material gain? Nothing! But what I see them getting is them being able to relate to what I’ve been telling them – and being able to adjust as players to their new teammates. When they go back to their own team they’re quicker to analyze a situation and remedy it.
What I’m doing now feels right. When you feel it, as opposed to doing it just for points or for likes. I volunteer because I want to volunteer; and I’ll be here doing this for as long as they’ll have me!
Want to volunteer like Fadil? Call Special Olympics Jamaica: +1 (876) 906-0752. One of our 16 local partners, UNICEF supports Special Olympics to increase the level of inclusion of young people with intellectual disabilities across Jamaica.